Herpesviruses encode numerous immune evasion molecules that interfere with the immune system, particularly with certain stages in the MHC class I antigen presentation pathway. In this pathway, the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) is a frequent target of viral immune evasion strategies. This ER-resident transporter is composed of the proteins TAP1 and TAP2, and plays a crucial role in the loading of viral peptides onto MHC class I molecules. Several variants of TAP1 and TAP2 occur in the human population, some of which are linked to autoimmune disorders and susceptibility to infections. Here, we assessed the influence of naturally occurring TAP variants on peptide transport and MHC class I expression. In addition, we tested the inhibitory capacity of three viral immune evasion proteins, the TAP inhibitors US6 from human cytomegalovirus, ICP47 from herpes simplex virus type 1 and BNLF2a from Epstein-Barr virus, for a series of TAP1 and TAP2 variants. Our results suggest that these TAP polymorphisms have no or limited effect on peptide transport or MHC class I expression. Furthermore, our study indicates that the herpesvirus-encoded TAP inhibitors target a broad spectrum of TAP variants; inhibition of TAP is not affected by the naturally occurring polymorphisms of TAP tested in this study. Our findings suggest that the long-term coevolution of herpesviruses and their host did not result in selection of inhibitor-resistant TAP variants in the human population.
Keywords: Antigen presentation; Herpesviruses; Polymorphism; TAP; Viral immune evasion.
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